Condo-Hopping With the Kardashians 

Nov 14, 2010

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NY Mag Reports on the Positive Affects Selling NY has had on Business


The Building: The Atlas, 66 West 38th Street
The Show: Project Runway
Vital Stats: A 374-unit, 46-story rental building; an alcove studio can be rented for $2,925 per month, a one-bedroom for $3,585, and a two-bedroom for $4,995.
Screen Time: Every episode features a shot or two in this luxury rental, which has housed the show’s contestants for six of eight seasons. This is where they crash after days of crafting, conniving, and catfighting.
Is There a Halo Effect? Katherine Sabroff, the building’s marketing-operations vice-president, says calls flood in each season: “There isn’t a week when we don’t get inquiries [from] all parts of the world.” StreetEasy’s Sofia Song says apartments here often rent within two weeks, faster than in similar buildings.

The Building: 100 Eleventh Avenue
The Show: Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Vital Stats: Prices at this 54-unit Jean Nouvel condo in West Chelsea run from $1.45 million for a one-bedroom to $22 million for a four-bedroom penthouse.
Screen Time: In the just-aired fifth season, viewers get lingering shots of the building’s playfully blocky exterior, plus a few minutes inside. “This is dreamy!” exclaims Kris Jenner, as she and her daughter Kim moon over the apartment.
Is There a Halo Effect? Probably none. Nouvel’s extraordinary architecture is the real buzz-builder here. October was a banner month, with four contracts signed, but all were in the works before the show aired. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the Kardashians,” says sales director Holly Parker.

The Building: 535 West End Avenue
The Show: Selling New York
Vital Stats: StreetEasy lists six apartments available for sale in this very expensive twenty-story condo, from $8.5 million for a four-bedroom to $18.9 million for a six-bedroom.
Screen Time: In an episode that’s yet to air, Gumley Haft Kleier’s Michele Kleier and her two daughters, Samantha and Sabrina, reportedly stop in with a client (and crew) to check out an expensive apartment in the development.
Is There a Halo Effect? To be determined, but CBS MoneyWatch and Curbed.com recap every episode, and the series has spawned a Los Angeles spinoff. Kleier has sold two apartments featured in the first season, one on Park Avenue and another at the Gramercy Park Hotel—both to viewers.

The Building: Toren, 150 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn
The Show: Flipping Out
Vital Stats: Prices at this ecofriendly condo in downtown Brooklyn start at $299,000 for a studio and go up to $1.495 million for a three-bedroom.
Screen Time: A substantial cameo, including a tour of a three-bedroom by developer Don Capoccia. The scene turns on a mix-up: The star, Jeff Lewis, thinks he may be hired as a consultant, then realizes that Capoccia just wants him to buy and flip.
Is There a Halo Effect? Seems to be minimal so far, though Capoccia says the exposure generated a lot of visits. According to Song, three contracts were signed here in the first half of September, two of them before the building was on Flipping Out.

The Building: The 505, 505 West 47th Street
The Show: The A-List
Vital Stats: Studios, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms, and penthouses in this 108-unit Hell’s Kitchen condo fall between $425,000 and $2.695 million.
Screen Time: Surprisingly extensive. In one scene in the second episode (aired in October), Amazing Race alumnus Reichen Lemkuhl and his model boyfriend, Rodiney, are house-hunting here, and they kiss after deciding it’s home.
Is There a Halo Effect? The series just premiered last month, and the building was already 70 percent sold, so it’s hard to say. But traffic to the sales office has increased “quite a bit,” says their publicist. Song says visits to the 505’s StreetEasy page rose 9.8 percent in October.

The Building: 515 East 72nd Street
The Show:Double Exposure
Vital Stats: This 365-unit Upper East Side conversion has 50 apartments listed, according to StreetEasy, ranging from $629,000 for a one-bedroom to $5.64 million for a four-bedroom.
Screen Time: Many scenes are in the two apartments where the celebrity photographers Markus Klinko and Indrani live. One episode includes a scene with Lindsay Lohan, who’s lounging on the floor in one of the common areas, picking out shoes.
Is There a Halo Effect? No comment from the developer about the benefits, real or perceived. The season wrapped in July, and traffic to the building’s StreetEasy page has shown no unusual activity since.

Life Swap: What If You Left New York 

Jul 19, 2010

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NY Mag Profiles John Mehigan's Private Island Listing


No matter how bad the economy gets, or who’s in power, lobbying and consulting money inevitably keeps flooding into Washington. So if you, a New Yorker with extensive connections in your field, are looking to cash in, relocating to the District has promise—and also an entire Beaux Arts rowhouse in prime Georgetown for the cost of a two-bedroom here. The house has a duplex and an in-law suite, which together bring in about $5,000 a month in rent.

61 West 68th Street, Apartment 2-6
The Facts: A two-bedroom duplex with a den and shared garden.
Asking Price: $1.295 million. maintenance: $1,456 per month.
Agent: Victoria Vinokur, Halstead Property.

3121 N Street NW, Georgetown
The Facts: A 2,232-square-foot four-bedroom rowhouse.
Asking Price: $1.35 million.
Annual Taxes: $9,467.
Agents: Robert Crawford and David Getson, Coldwell Banker Residential-Dupont Circle.



Feb 01, 2010

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Michele Kleier Discusses the Effects of Bonuses on the Real Estate Market


Last week, broker Michele Kleier drained her cell-phone battery four days in a row, fielding endless calls about one or another of her multi-million-dollar listings. The last time that happened, she says, was at the beginning of 2008, before the market went into its slide. “One exclusive where we just had our first open house, we had 45 people show up,” she says. Ditto Barbara Fox, who’s fielding dozens of calls on another apartment that has been sitting quietly unsold since last year. (In December, it took her just a week to sell a $2.4 million listing.) “Normally, our market’s quite sleepy in January, especially in the first two weeks,” reports Kirk Henckels of Stribling Private Brokerage, but this year, “[business] started right away.”

What’s driving this? Those bonuses that everyone’s yelling about—and the accompanying halo effect. “People are hearing about bonus money and thinking they’re going to miss out,” says Kleier, explaining that buyers who’ve been on the fence may be thinking prices have bottomed out. Activity’s not just in the sub-seven-figure range, either, as was the case this fall. According to Streeteasy.com, 122 Manhattan properties priced between $1.5 million and $5 million went into contract between December 15 and January 15, up 171 percent from the same period a year ago. “It’s surprising, given the current climate,” acknowledges Sofia Song, the site’s vice-president of research. “But with these bonuses, you get a larger pool of buyers for this price range.” The sweet spot? Between $2 million and $3 million, which accounts for more than a third of those contracts.

Warburg Realty’s president, Frederick Peters, suggests that it’s not actually bonus money at work—just that buyers are generally more confident, and that “they don’t want to miss buying close to the trough.” (Crain’s New York reports that many bonuses may come in stock, not cash, anyway, mitigating their real-estate might.) This is not to say sellers ought to start licking their chops, however. Henckels says past discounts have done what they’re supposed to do—stoke sales—but there’s not enough clamor to raise prices. “It’s the busiest I’ve been in a long time,” says Kleier. “Whether this translates into signed contracts, it’s too early to see.”

Fake Buyers Are Back! 

Nov 08, 2009

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Michele Kleier discusses open house attendees


Brooklyn broker Peggy Aguayo hadn’t seen the guy since January. Before then, he’d been an open-house regular, pacing through rooms and pocketing her handouts. Aguayo calls him an L.L.—a “lifelong looker”—who followed the market but had never bought anything. And when sales slumped, he, along with many real buyers, disappeared. That is, until recently, when Aguayo spotted him at a condo showing, scooping up the latest flyer.Open houses are suddenly full of these don’t-I-know-you moments. Corcoran’s John Gasdaska has had similar reunions; so has Michele Kleier of Gumley Haft Kleier, who at a recent showing on the Upper East Side ran into an L.L. she’s seen for years. Same for Jodi Cowen of Brown Harris Stevens: “A guy the other day came back twice and then told me, ‘I haven’t even sold my apartment yet.’ I’ve been getting a lot of that,” she says. Cowen estimates that her window-shopping traffic is up 50 percent—whereas real buyers are up 25 percent.

Does attention from non-buyers mean anything? “It’s a good sign,” insists Kleier. “Even they give up when the market is down.” Aguayo adds that when business was slow, “only the ultraserious showed up.” But at a Park Slope viewing two Sundays ago, “there were about 30 sign-ins … A lot of people were saying they were just curious.” After all, if they still have jobs, and the economy is showing hints of recovery, their fantasy lives can roar back into existence. “People were so scared of their own financial health they couldn’t even think of window-shopping,” says StreetEasy’s Sofia Kim. But now “they hear the Dow is up, the positive third-quarter reports.” (Besides, professional lookers tend to keep a low profile, and it’s easier to slip into an open house when there’s a crowd.) For the record, Kim says transactions have definitely increased over late 2008—though that was when the market was at a virtual standstill.

Not every broker is so tolerant, of course: Corcoran’s Rebecca Knaster says dealing with Sunday lurkers is “very frustrating.” But they can be a way to keep sellers’ hopes alive. As Kleier puts it, “they may actually work out. If you get them with the right apartment, they may buy.” Someday. Maybe.

At Least They’re Looking 

May 17, 2009

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Samantha Kleier Forbes Gives her Take on the Current Market Climate


The East End Avenue ten-room had just gone up for sale when Samantha Kleier Forbes, of Gumley Haft Kleier, hosted its first open house. Any other April she would’ve expected a crowd, but this year, she knew better. Buyer traffic had slowed to a crawl, especially for properties asking $2 million and up. “You were lucky if you got six or seven people,” she says. “You’d sit there and pray someone showed up.” (In February, another open house came and went without a single visitor.) But this time Kleier Forbes got “close to 50 people,” and although plenty of them were other brokers, that total included fifteen actual shoppers. Now her sellers are negotiating with one of them.

Could the worst be over? Brokers are reporting a small but discernible boost in traffic in the last six weeks. “It’s not a dismal feeling anymore,” says Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Leonard Steinberg, who saw visitors to a listing double from three months ago. “The consensus in the office is that things have unlocked.”

Broker and Urbandigs.com blogger Noah Rosenblatt agrees there’s more activity, but cautions against thinking prices have bottomed out. “There’s an uptick in foot traffic, but not in year-over-year contracts,” he says. Statistics are encouraging, but only somewhat. Though the number of apartments going into contract has risen steadily since January in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, per StreetEasy.com, transactions are still way off from a year ago (by which time we were into the downturn; Bear Stearns had already collapsed). In Manhattan, 657 apartments found buyers in April, down from 813—a nearly 20 percent slump from 2008. Brooklyn fared worse, with 100 buyers going into contract, compared to 155 last year. Another agent says properties perceived as bargains are moving but that business is still “difficult.” “Are deals happening? Yes,” says Rosenblatt. “But for the most part, buyers are still pricing a downturn risk. Higher traffic doesn’t necessarily mean that prices are on their way up. There’s a side effect to this [economic] slowdown that we have yet to see.”

There’s a Problem With Your Application 

Mar 02, 2009

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Michele Kleier gives her take on applying to Co-ops in today's economy


For years, Halstead Property’s Richard Grossman has run a boot camp, teaching agents how to get buyers approved by co-op boards. In it, he presents four hypothetical applicant profiles. The first is a professional—a teacher, perhaps—with an average income but an outsize down payment. The second is a bonus-dependent candidate like a banker, who makes $80,000 and is putting down the minimum, but has a bonus three times his salary. The third, a non–Wall Streeter, earns somewhere in the low six figures and has a small bonus and a standard down payment, and the fourth, a first-time buyer with a good job, relies on relatives to cobble together a decent down payment.

In the past, says Grossman, agents invariably picked the financier as the most board-worthy, thanks to his bonus. At last month’s seminar, however, the answers were unanimous: “Go with the teacher.” And that is a big change. “If you were bidding against someone from Wall Street who had this kind of bonus history, you couldn’t compete. First of all, they were willing to outbid you, and second of all, the sellers were willing to take them over somebody else,” says Gumley Haft Kleier president Michele Kleier. “Bonus used to be the favorite word in everybody’s vocabulary. Now salary is a much more attractive word.” Admits one Upper West Side board member: “We’re definitely cautious across the board now, especially when someone’s touting their bonus.”

In the pre-Lehman days, many boards grew to regard bonuses as standard parts of compensation, as reliable as anything else in the financial package. “If your stream of bonuses was steady for several years, you could anticipate that your bonus was going to be equal to or exceed what you got the last two years,” she says. “The boards would look at that and basically count it.”

“We’ve always advised people to be cautious and to look at assets and salary, not just bonuses,” says Mary Ann Rothman of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums. But well-funded portfolios alone aren’t enough, says Grossman, who has sat on two different boards. Investments should be diverse, too. “Stocks in conservative [companies], not in financial institutions,” he says. “They want to see diversity, especially after the Madoff thing.” Some boards are actually asking prospective buyers still awaiting interviews for updated financials, in case their situation has changed since the stock market fell.

The intense scrutiny can be frustrating for both buyers and sellers needing to unload properties fast, but lawyer Stuart Saft says “boards generally feel they have a fiduciary duty to the existing shareholders to make sure they’re not taking any risks.” If that means nixing someone with an acceptable bid who can’t pass beefed-up standards, so be it. Fair Housing laws prohibit discriminating against entire employment classes, but experts say boards aren’t stereotyping; they’re being financially prudent. “No one’s being given a hard time because they’re in finance,” says Saft. “They’re given a hard time because they don’t have adequate liquid assets with which to pay for the apartment.”

Bargains at Every Price 

Sep 29, 2008

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NY Magazine Chooses Michele Kleier's Listing at 610 Park as One of NY's Best Bargains


$2 Million and Up

1 Morton Square, Apt. 2EW
$2.535 million two-bedroom
This condo’s asking price is 12 percent less than this very chic building’s average, and the apartment has river views.
It’s a bargain because: It’s on only the second floor. (Though this second floor is higher than most.)
Broker: Darren Sukenik, Prudential Douglas Elliman.

135 Greene Street
$3.495 million two-bedroom loft
Lots of classic Soho charm—eleven-and-a-half-foot ceilings, huge windows all around—without the blandness of new lofts. And scale: It’s 35 feet by 81 feet.
It’s a bargain because: The price per square foot is atypically low.
Broker: Siim Hanja and Confidence Stimpson, Stribling & Associates.

610 Park Avenue
$4.25 million five-room
The admittedly commanding price is far lower than the $2,700-per-square-foot average in this Park Avenue prewar.
It’s a bargain because: A few deals have fallen through here, and the price has been dropped to get things moving.
Broker: Michele Kleier, Gumley Haft Kleier.


No Blackouts for Plutocrats 

Jul 21, 2008

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Michele Kleier Discusses Avoiding Blackouts on the Upper East Side


The air-conditioning-induced Queens blackout two summers ago, plus the warnings during the June heat wave that the Upper East Side risked the same fate, have sent the upper classes searching for backup power supplies. “We manage many buildings on Fifth and Park Avenues that are in the process or have recently installed generators,” says Michele Kleier of the real-estate firm Gumley Haft Kleier. “And in the summer there’s an upswing in buyers asking about backup power.” Matt Johnson of Gaia Power Technologies, which sells battery backup-power systems, reports growing interest. “Sales have tripled from private townhouses, Park Avenue apartments, and high-rise residential buildings,” he says. Extell Development, for example, included generators in its overhaul of 995 Fifth Avenue, across from the Met, and plans backup power for its new development at 535 West End Avenue. “The Queens blackout definitely played a part in the decision,” says a rep.

Harlem's Other Half 

Jan 21, 2008

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Broker Lauren Berger Discusses the Appeal of East Harlem


Not much more than the promise of a cut-rate rental lured Jarvis, a banker, to East Harlem in 2003. He’d been looking elsewhere uptown, but prices were easily 30 percent cheaper—even more—over on Pleasant Avenue, where he eventually found a place. “At the time, it was the best bang for the buck,” he says. Never mind that it was a much scruffier place than the West Side’s rapidly gentrifying Harlem brownstone communities. “There was definitely this feeling that [it] was up-and-coming, but not like West Harlem,” remembers Gumley Haft Kleier broker Lauren Berger, who specializes in the area. “Buyers would say, ‘Oh, it’s not as developed.’ ”

Four years on, that hefty discount in East Harlem (a.k.a. El Barrio, a.k.a. Spanish Harlem) is long gone, as is the 96th Street cutoff for high-priced real estate. Sid Whelan, the lead sales agent for the Bridges NYC, a condo development at 124th Street and Third Avenue, says that the area’s “also-ran” status is simply a thing of the past. According to a Halstead survey of properties sold in both areas in 2007, the average price per square foot in East Harlem now hovers at $629, just $8 below West Harlem’s. “There’s more parity now. There’s no clear distinction between the two,” says appraiser Jonathan Miller, who says when he’s evaluating the property values in East Harlem these days, he no longer makes a “location adjustment compared to West Harlem. I would’ve done that [a couple of] years ago.”

The price increase appears to have been led by the neighborhood’s batch of new condos. Buildings like the 68-unit Mirada at Lexington and 110th Street and the 31-unit Bridges are bringing upscale amenities and finishes (concierge service, roof decks, “intelligent” kitchens), and the well-off buyers who want them. At the same time, city officials are discussing ways to “green” the area and lower pollution, the Second Avenue subway will expand transportation options surprisingly soon, and services are multiplying. Jarvis, for his part, got himself a three-bedroom at the Bridges, and George Rivera, who grew up in West Harlem, bought a mixed-use warehouse for home and investment. “It’s less crowded, less dense here,” he says. “You get a tremendous amount of light, unlike in West Harlem. I have an open view to downtown!” Adds Jarvis: “Five years from now, people will be saying, ‘Damn, I wish I’d jumped on that East Harlem thing.’ ”

When Are You Going to Fix That? 

Dec 03, 2007

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Samantha Kleier Forbes Discusses What Not to Say at a Co-Op Board Meeting


Getting the offer accepted is, strange as it sounds, often the easy part. It’s passing muster with the co-op board that’s tough. Assembling a killer package is key, of course (stellar references, wad of cash in the bank). Then comes the interview—and by this point, it’s your game to lose. “Ninety-five percent of the work has been done. The 5 percent is up to you, and that’s a very important 5 percent,” says Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Jacky Teplitzky. Most rules are standard—arrive early, dress conservatively—but brokers say some strategies appear counterintuitive. Take name-dropping. Though it may seem advantageous to mention friends in the building, agent Alison Rogers, author of Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, says skip it, unless you’re certain they’re adored by their neighbors. “You may score points with some, but annoy others who may not like them,” she says. In fact, steer clear of talking about anything specific about the building in general (the new fitness room or the chatty doorman). Those are what Corcoran’s Deanna Kory calls “hot points.” The gym could have come at a massive and controversial hike in maintenance; that doorman may be on his way out. “Somebody on the board may hate [them],” she explains—and your innocent enthusiasm will leave a bad taste in their mouths. Samantha Kleier Forbes of Gumley Haft Kleier once had a buyer, hoping to look interested in the future of the co-op, ask if the lobby was scheduled to be renovated. Unfortunately for him, the lobby had just been done over. “The board meeting is never the time to ask these questions,” she says.

Served on the board of your old building? Resist touting your accomplishments. “That’s a big N-O!” says Teplitzky. No one likes a braggart, for starters, and you may unnerve board members who like things the way they are. And though it may seem smart to dress to the hilt to gain entry to a chic co-op, Bellmarc’s Cayle White recommends leaving the diamonds and Birkin bag at home. “You don’t want to look like you’re trying to look rich. It’s very ostentatious and gauche,” she says. “Your financial information speaks for itself.” And, says Kleier Forbes, “you don’t want to look like someone who’ll steal someone else’s husband. No one’s ever been turned down for looking boring.”

All That Glitters Isn't New York 

Sep 25, 2007

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For some buyers, it's better to look at Manhattan than to live in it.


Last year, DX Street, the online-marketing firm Ben Hordell co-founded, traded its fashionable Soho offices for gold—New Jersey’s so-called Gold Coast, a strip along the Hudson River that runs from Edgewater Cliffs south to Bayonne. The move was strictly business; Hordell loved living in the West Village. But as he ferried between Manhattan and Edgewater and watched towers pop up on the Jersey side like Legos, and saw billboards touting condos “on the water with Manhattan views in the $400,000s,” he started to wonder. “I love the neighborhood, but it’s a space thing. We have a bedroom that’s eight feet by seven. The full-size bed touches three walls,” he grumbles. Soon, says Hordell, a move to Edgewater may not just be a possibility—it may well be his goal.

“That river’s huge, but it’s getting narrower all the time,” says Doug Fenichel of K. Hovnanian Homes, the biggest developer remaking the area. Lennar Homes and Roseland Property are also major players. About fifteen new projects have popped up in the past year and a half. At premium prices, too: $500 to $1,000 per square foot for luxury units in buildings stocked with amenities (plus parking!), about half the going rate for comparable apartments in town. Since the ferry terminal opened in May 2006, Fenichel says he’s “seeing a lot more interest from across the river.” In some projects, like Vista Pointe and Grandview II, the number of city expats is up 20 percent.

No wonder developers are scrambling to make the newcomers feel welcome, offering what they call “Tribeca-style” or “Soho-style” finishes and expanding ground-floor retail so residents can shop on foot. They’re also offering incentives to city brokers—higher commissions, $5,000 American Express gift certificates— to entice them across the river. Halstead’s executive director of development marketing, Stephen Kliegerman, thinks the strategy makes sense but stops short of calling New Jersey buildings competition. “I don’t think they’re luring people away from Manhattan unless they want to be lured,” he says. Indeed, says broker Michele Kleier, being so-close-yet-so-far may actually be a liability. “You’re always going to see those views and be frustrated you’re not in the city,” she says. “It’s like being on a diet and walking past ice-cream stores constantly.”

Neighborhood Watch: How Vulnerable are You? A Risk Analysis 

Sep 24, 2007

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Michele Kleier and Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern Discuss the Demand for Apartments in NYC Neighborhoods


Is your neighborhood oversupplied with condos? Still in demand? Cruising along? Cruising for a fall? Here's the definitive guide, with risk factors (see key at right) for each neighborhood.

It’s called the Gold Coast for a reason: Buyers and sellers here operate on a rarefied plane where the larger economy barely affects their real-estate choices. “Historically, Gold Coast markets tend to see a lesser degree of volatility,” says appraiser Jonathan Miller. “You’re paying to buy into a more established location.” That may be because exclusive co-ops and their boards demand such deep cash reserves and such big down payments that virtually everyone in this world can afford to buy or sell at any time. Broker Michele Kleier has sold here for decades and says that “even in the difficult times in the early nineties, I had good years.” In the roughest stretch of recent decades, between 1990 and 1995, the average price per square foot in the Fifth Avenue–Park Avenue corridor fell just 14.5 percent, according to Miller Samuel data. (The similarly genteel neighborhood around Sutton and Beekman Places fell 27.8 percent.) Median sale prices of four-bedroom apartments dipped for just two years—1991 and 1992—then went back up, even as nearly everything else continued to drift down. If there’s one spot of vulnerability, it’s Central Park West, where A-class buildings—the Beresford, the El Dorado—stand cheek-by-jowl with less desirable ones, leaving it less insulated than the other golden thoroughfares. As for those $50 million trophy spaces we all keep reading about, Miller explains that they will simply disappear from the market. Their owners will wait to trot them out when the bull market roars again.

Apologies to the lefties on Riverside Drive, but—voting patterns and Fairway aside—there’s barely any difference between the Upper West and Upper East Sides today. “They’re a lot more alike than ever before,” says broker Barbara Fox, who has bought and sold—and lived—in both neighborhoods. “If there’s a serious downturn, it naturally affects everything. But [these areas] are the last to be hit and some of the first to recover.” That’s in large part because their good school districts are a selling point among Manhattan’s new parenting class, notes Corcoran’s Deanna Kory. The West Side is, right now, a bit more expensive than its eastern counterpart, according to the most recent data from the appraisal firm Miller Samuel; condos and co-ops there run $1,153 per square foot, compared with $1,134 across the park. Inventory remains low—exacerbated by so many homeowners’ combining apartments to accommodate their growing broods, adds Kory—which is keeping prices up. Plus those fussy co-op boards help. Although most buildings aren’t like the all-cash Dakota and 740 Park, they “have a layer of qualifications that they apply, and if you can pass, there’s usually no question about being creditworthy,” says Perry Gaa of New York Mortgage Company. “I haven’t seen any issue with financing since the credit crunch began.” Trouble spots are likely to be the fringe stretches of the neighborhoods, like northeastern Yorkville and the far West Sixties.

Well, it looks a lot better than it did in the high-crime years, and despite Harlem’s fast and recent rise, there are just eight foreclosures on the docket. Still, trouble’s brewing: According to the 2006 “State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods” report published by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, 30 percent of refinance loans in Central Harlem in 2005 fell in the subprime category; 10.8 percent in East Harlem; and 10.4 percent in Hamilton Heights. (The Upper East Side’s rate, by comparison, is 1.6 percent.) Yes, some Australian mogul may have set a record by paying $12 million for the penthouse at 111 Central Park North, but “it’s an emerging market, and that’s where a lot of the subprime lending starts,” explains Miller. “You have people priced out of lower Manhattan squeezing and making it work with less than a prime mortgage.” A decent number of those people won’t be able to make their payments when interest rates rise; that means sudden fire sales; that in turn brings oversupply, driving prices down. That Central and East Harlem are packed with new condos can’t help, either: In 2005, the Department of Buildings issued 940 new certificates of occupancy in these areas, nearly double the number given out on the Upper West Side. Brownstone owners in West Harlem are going to be best off; many buyers of new condos, particularly those whose developers have vanished and left them with leaking pipes and buckling floors, have somewhat more to worry about.

Though prices have risen remarkably at the top end of Manhattan, the ascent has been steady and relatively stable. (In 2006, apartments here cost, on average, $505 per square foot, slightly more than triple that of 2000, according to Miller Samuel data, but still 50 percent cheaper than a couple of miles to the south, in Zabar’s Land.) That may be because there’s so little new condo building in the area. The properties that are for sale are virtually all in prewar buildings, many of high quality (and getting better, as new money flows in and freshens up their battered details). These structures are often full of larger three- and four-bedroom apartments, making them attractive to families who, even if prices were to fall citywide, would not be able to afford the large spaces they need in the West Eighties and Nineties. That particular demographic is likely to keep filtering into the area, creating a healthy “gradual growing,” says Corcoran’s Kelly Cole, who specializes in the area. Adds Paul Cole of Trachtman & Bach, “When you buy up there, you’re not paying for the hype, because there is no hype.” Of the two, “Washington Heights is a little more immune than Inwood, which has a slightly limited appeal because it’s so far,” says Cole. The Audubon Terrace section in the West 150s, with its prewar condos and established co-ops, will likely weather any storms, as will the ever-popular Hudson Heights in the West 180s and low 190s. East of Broadway? “[It’s] more pioneering,” she says, delicately.


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Hot Property Book

The stars of HGTV's “Selling New York” let fans step inside the high-profile world of Manhattan real estate in a wild and one-of-a-kind novel of stormy egos, sumptuous homes, and staggering fame and fortune. Written by Michele, Samantha & Sabrina Kleier.